Guest Blog by: David Harrison , Colorado 3/15/2014
Walleye are a fish that survive in so many situations that there are always multiple ways to catch them. Ever see consecutive posts that say to use live bait and then recommend crankbaits? The truth is that for fish in 20 FOW on a mid-lake hump you can troll, cast, or slip bobber them successfully if you have the skills, equipment, and the experience to do it correctly.
So, how do you get the skills, equipment, and experience?
The skills come from knowing what all of the tactics are. The common walleye tactics are trolling, rigging, jigging, trolling for suspended fish, bottom bouncing, and slip bobbers. You need to learn these techniques during their respective seasons on each lake.
The best way to determine the equipment necessary (especially lure colors for your lake and seasonal patterns is to hire the guide for that lake and ask a ton of questions. You will save at least half of the guide costs in equipment alone.
To develop the experience the fastest way is to do tournaments because you will challenge yourself to find fish, control the boat, and put together the entire successful package in many different lakes and situations.
For Chatfield here is the seasonal technique list:
Early Spring (March and April) Trolling with planer boards for shallow fish, trolling lead core at Cherry Creek.
Late Spring (May and June) Casting jigs and pulling rigs for fish on structure, trolling for suspended trophy fish. You can pull bottom bouncers and lead core here too.
Summer (July and August) Troll for fish at night or go carp fishing during the day (the walleye during the day are tough to catch).
Fall (September through November) Cast and slip bobber for fish on structure.
As you can see, once you figure out a bite on one technique the fish start moving and require a whole new set of tactics. Five guide trips (split with friends) costs about $500-$800 and is probably the best investment in your walleye career. It is also a fun way "get the feel" for catching walleyes. It is ok to spread them out over a couple of years, the fish are not going anywhere. Then, once you hit the water all that is left is to find the fish and control the boat. After 5 guide trips you will have some great ideas of where to look for fish and the boat control education is something you will always be improving.
If you do these trips one year, then enroll in the Colorado Walleye Association tournament trail the next year you will complete the "undergraduate" and "graduate" degrees in walleye fishing. You may not win the CWA events in your second year but they give out so many prizes it will be worth your effort to attend and you will continue to learn what you need to work on and where you need to improve while also meeting some great people. Before you know it, you too will be able to boat walleye consistently.
David Harrison is a freelance writer who lives near Chatfield Reservoir and Waterton Canyon in Littleton, CO. He has published articles in In-Fisherman, North American Fisherman, Colorado Outdoors, Salmon/Trout/Steelheader, Bass Anglers Magazine, and FLW Bass Magazine.